Sunday, November 23, 2008

Remembering Maverick

Last night, I insisted we try the pork belly at The Alembic, because the last time I had it, it was outstanding—crisper-than-crisp on top and oozingly delicious beneath. But this time 'round, the kitchen hadn't quite pulled it off—if they'd just cooked it off a tiny tad more, it woulda been perfect. Then I remembered another pork belly I'd had that was absolutely divine. Maverick's especially handsome, melt-in-your-mouth morsel of piggy goodness, crowned with sweet slivers of nectarines.

In fact, most of what Maverick had to offer made for a really good meal, like the Baltimore crab puffs with a spicy remoulade; the super saucy and creamy mac n' cheese; fall-off-the-bone braised short ribs; spicy grilled duck breast; and my fave, the buttermilk-soaked Rocky Jr. free-range Southern fried chicken (the best fried poulet I've had in years). I think (OK, I know) I got a bunch of brownie points from Mr. & Mrs. H for having made the rezzies at this "American Eatery & Wine Bar." Note to self: Semi-fancified American comfort food is exactly what Mrs. H wants when it comes to celebrating her birthday.

Hello, lover ...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Viva Aziza

I'd heard (way) out-of-way Aziza was good, but I had no idea. The fun and festive resto marries the best of Moroccan cooking with California's fresh, local ingredients. Perfect for JP's birthday. A good thing there were four of us, so that we could have our fill of a lot of different things. The only low note? The strange and sometimes awful medley of desserts we'd ordered.

Back to the main attraction ...

We started in on some tasty spreads including velvety eggplant, piquillo-almond, and yogurt-dill along with a salad of super tender rings of squid, shredded cabbage, micro-greens, chili, sour leaf, and a generous dose of lime.

Then it was on to the beef riblets with pickled onion and a chiff of mint plus the generously portioned and fragrant saffron chicken and spiced almond basteeya—basically the Moroccan version of chicken pot pie using phyllo dough, subtly sweetened with sugar and cinnamon.

Whoa nellie. Loved Aziza's hefty fall-off-the-bone lamb shank paired with barley, prune, and cranberry, with a pinch of fresh scallion on top.

We were also pleased as punch with the moist medallions of paprika-spiked rabbit with baby carrots, parsnips, dried cherries and a fluffy mound of mashies.

Bringing up the rear were the perfectly grilled scallops with corn, cauliflower, mushrooms, sultana raisins, and vadouvan (an Indian spice-mix made of cumin, fenugreek, mustard, turmeric, curry leaves, onion, garlic, and dal that made the whole dish pop with flavor).

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Quince Takes the Cake

With UK lead editors D&A coming to town and D being a serious hedon and foodie, I made rezzies per my boss's OK (that's him up top) at Michelin-starred Quince restaurant, ever on my short list of places to go since I got back to SF 2 years prior. Having taken the spot once occupied by the more casual, (maybe) less successful Meetinghouse, Quince has proven this slightly out-of-the-way location is far from cursed, but rather blessed with some of the finest seasonal, local fare any self-respecting food-lover will find.

We loved absolutely everything brought to our plushy velvet corner booth by our obliging fully suited—ties and all—servers: the buttery smooth baton of foie gras with wild coastal huckleberries and toasted brioche sticks, the creamy gnochetti with savory lamb ragu, the al dente pasta with eel broth and bits, and the milk-fed veal sitting atop a sweet potato sauce. D was so giddy with delight over her sweet breads and subsequent rabbit entree, that she about poured all of Thumper's jus on the table in front of us (as evidenced above left).

All in all, I'd say this is by far the best fine-dining experience I've had since coming back to SF. And the company wasn't too shabby either. Thanks, work peeps!